Rwanda

Rwanda

] Belgian co-operation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry continues to develop and rebuild agricultural practices in the country. It has distributed agricultural tools and seed to help rebuild the country. Belgium also helped in re-launching fisheries in Lake Kivu, at a value of US$470,000, in 2001. [cite web|url=http://www.monitor.co.ug/specialincludes/mplsups/rwandagen/gen16.php|title=Belgium on Mission to Rebuild Rwanda|accessdate=2007-06-03|date=2007-06-03|publisher=Daily Monitor, Kampala, Uganda]

In Eastern Rwanda, The Clinton Hunter Development Initiative, along with Partners in Health, are helping to improve agricultural productivity, improve water and sanitation and health services, and help cultivate international markets for agricultural products. [cite web|url=http://www.clintonfoundation.org/cf-pgm-chdi-home.htm|title=CHDI Overview|accessdate=2007-06-04|date=2007-06-14|publisher=William J. Clinton Foundation, Little Rock, US] [cite web|url=http://www.pih.org/where/Rwanda/Rwanda.html|title=Rwanda / Inshuti Mu Buzima|accessdate=2007-06-04|date=2007-01|publisher=Partners in Health, Boston, US]

Since 2000, the Rwandan government has expressed interest in transforming the country from agricultural subsistence to a knowledge-based economy, and plans to provide high-speed broadband across the entire country. [ [http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20071017/wl_csm/owired] ]

Politics

After its military victory in July 1994, the Rwandan Patriotic Front organized a coalition government loosely based on the 1993 Arusha accords. The National Movement for Democracy and Development – Habyarimana's party that had instigated and implemented the genocidal ideology – along with the CDR (another Hutu extremist party) were banned, with most of its leaders either arrested or in exile. It is not clear whether any Hutu parties are currently allowed in Rwanda. After the 1994 genocide, the RPF installed a single-party "coalition-based" government. Paul Kagame became Vice-President. In 2000, he was elected president of Rwanda by the parliament.

A new constitution, written by the Kagame government, was adopted by referendum in 2003. The first post-war presidential and legislative elections were held in August and September 2003, respectively. Opposition parties were banned until just before the elections, so no true opposition to the ruling RPF existed. The RPF-led government has continued to promote reconciliation and unity amongst all Rwandans as enshrined in the new constitution that forbids any political activity or discrimination based on race, ethnicity or religion. Right of return to Rwandans displaced between 1959 and 1994, primarily Tutsis, was enshrined in the constitution, but no mention of the return of Hutus that fled Kagame's RPF forces into the Congo in the great refugee crisis of 1994-1998 or subsequently, is made in the constitution. Nevertheless, the constitution guarantees "All persons originating from Rwanda and their descendants shall, upon their request, be entitled to Rwandan nationality" and "No Rwandan shall be banished from the country."

By law, at least a third of the Parliament representation must be female. It is believed that women will not allow the mass killings of the past to be repeated. Rwanda topped a recently conducted global survey on the percentage of women in Parliament with as much as 49 percent female representation, currently the highest in the world. [Gender Conflict and Development. Tsjeard Bouta. 2004. p56] [Powley, E. 2003. Strengthening governance: the role of women in Rwanda's transition. [http://www.huntalternativesfund.org Available online at huntalternativesfund.org] ]

The Senate has at least 26 members, each with an 8 year term. Eight posts are appointed by the president. 12 are elected representatives of the 11 provinces and the city of Kigali. Four members are designated by the Forum of Political Organizations (a quasi-governmental organization that currently is an arm of the dominant political party); one member is a university lecturer or researcher elected by the public universities; one member is a university lecturer or researcher elected by the private universities. Any past President has permanent membership in the Senate. Under this scheme, up to 12 appointees to the Senate are appointed by the President and his party. The elected members must be approved by the Supreme Court. The 14 Supreme Court members are designated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Chamber of Deputies has 80 members, each with a 5 year term; 24 posts are reserved for women and are elected by province; 53 posts can be men or women and are also are elected by local elections; 2 posts are elected by the National Youth Council; 1 post is elected by Federation of the Associations of the Disabled.

The President and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies must be from different political parties. The President is elected every 7 years, and may serve a maximum of 2 terms. In 2006, however, the structure of the country was reorganized. It is unclear how this affects current elected representation proportions.

The current Rwandan government, led by Paul Kagame, has been praised by many for establishing security and promoting reconciliation and economic development, but is also criticized by some for being overly militant and opposed to dissent. The country now has many international visitors and is regarded as a safer place for tourists, with only a single isolated mortar attack in early 2007 around Volcanoes National Park near Gisenyi. [cite web|url=http://://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1007.html|title=Consular Information Sheet -- Rwanda|accessdate=2007-06-04|date=2007-03-19|publisher=US Dept. of State, Washington, D.C.]

With new independent radio stations and other media arising, Rwanda is attempting a free press, but there are reports of journalists disappearing and being apprehended whenever articles question the government. [cite web|url=http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=20737|title=Rwanda - 2007 Annual Report|date=2007-05-02|publisher=Reporters Without Borders, Paris, France] [cite web|url=http://www.opcofamerica.org/press_freedom/letters/080207_rwandaletter.php|title=OPC Letter to Rwanda|date=2007-02-15|publisher=Overseas Press Club of America, New York, USA] The transmitter for Radio France International was banned by the government in Rwanda in 2006 when it became critical of Kagame and the RPF.

Administrative divisions

Rwanda is divided into five provinces ( _rw. "intara") and subdivided into thirty districts ( _rw. "akarere"). The provinces are:
* North Province
* East Province
* South Province
* West Province
* Kigali Province

Prior to 1 January 2006, Rwanda was composed of twelve provinces, but these were abolished in full and redrawn as part of a program of decentralization and reorganization.

Geography

This small country is located near the center of Africa, a few degrees south of the Equator. It is separated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo by Lake Kivu and the Rusizi River valley to the west; it is bounded on the north by Uganda, to the east by Tanzania, and to the south by Burundi. The capital, Kigali, is located in the center of the country.

Rwanda's countryside is covered by grasslands and small farms extending over rolling hills, with areas of rugged mountains that extend southeast from a chain of volcanoes in the northwest. The divide between the Congo and Nile drainage systems extends from north to south through western Rwanda at an average elevation of almost 9,000 feet (2,740 m). On the western slopes of this ridgeline, the land slopes abruptly toward Lake Kivu and the Ruzizi River valley, and constitutes part of the Great Rift Valley. The eastern slopes are more moderate, with rolling hills extending across central uplands at gradually reducing altitudes, to the plains, swamps, and lakes of the eastern border region. Therefore the country is also fondly known as "Land of a Thousand Hills" ( _fr. "Pays des milles collines"). In 2006, a British-led exploration announced that they had located the longest headstream of the River Nile in Nyungwe Forest. [cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/hampshire/4864782.stm|title=Team reaches Nile's 'true source'|accessdate=2006-12-04|date=2006-03-31|publisher=BBC News]

Transport

The transport system in Rwanda centres primarily around the road network, with paved roads between the capital, Kigali and most other major cities and towns in the country. Rwanda is also linked by road to other countries in East Africa.This is an important trade route. The country has an international airport at Kigali, serving a domestic and several international destinations. There is limited water transport between the port cities on Lake Kivu. A large amount of investment in the transport infrastructure has been made by the government since the 1994 genocide, with aid from the USA, European Union, China, Japan and others.

The principal form of public transport in the country is share taxi, with express routes linking the major cities and local services serving most villages along the main roads of the country. Coach services are available to various destinations in neighbouring countries.

In 2006, the Chinese government proposed funding a study for the building of a railway link from Bujumbura in Burundi to Kigali in Rwanda to Isaki in Tanzania. [cite web|url=http://railwaysafrica.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=563&Itemid=35|title=China to Assist Rwanda|date=2006-09-07|publisher=Railways Africa, Gauteng, South Africa] A delegation from the American railroad BNSF also met with President Paul Kagame to discuss a route from Kigali to Isaka and at the same time the government announced that it had selected a German consulting company to undertake pilot work for the proposed mail line. [cite web|url=http://allafrica.com/stories/200704250668.html|title=Rwanda: Kagame Meets Railway Expert|date=2007-04-27|publisher=The New Times, Kigali, Rwanda]

Travel to Rwanda

Travel and tourism information for Rwanda can be found here:

http://www.rwandatourism.com/home.htm

and here:

http://www.ortpn.gov.rw/indexe.htm

Check current requirements for entry into the Republic of Rwanda here:http://rwanda.visahq.com/requirements/Rwanda/At the time of writing, US citizens and UK citizens do not require a visa to enter Rwanda for periods of up to 3 months.

Medical facilities in Rwanda do not match western standards. You must purchase adequate medical and travel insurance for your whole trip to Rwanda and make sure that this includes the option to be medi-vaced (flown) to Nairobi (Kenya) or South Africa in the event of a serious medical emergency. You should purchase this insurance in your home country before travelling. You should visit your own doctor/GP well in advance of travelling to Rwanda and have all necessary vaccinations. Rwanda is a malarious country and you need to visit your doctor/GP in advance of travelling to Rwanda for information about whether to take anti-malarials during your stay and what kind. It is sometimes difficult to source particular medicines/medical supplies in Rwanda and you should therefore ensure that you bring sufficient supplies of medication etc. for pre-existing conditions.

There are very few ATMs and very little use of credit/debit cards in Rwanda including VISA/American Express. The primary method of payment is by cash. You are advised not to bring travellers’ cheques as it is difficult to cash them. US$ or UK£ cash are both easily convertible.

Electricity in Rwanda is 220V. Travellers will need to bring with them appropriate step up/down transformers if their equipment does not already cope with voltages between 110 and 240V. Check your appliances and seek advice in your country before you travel. UK travellers do not require set up/down transformers to use electrical equipment in Rwanda.

Communications

The use of fixed telephone landlines is not widespread in the country. Many people use one of the two main mobile telephone networks: MTN or Terracom. MTN is the bigger operator of the two. Both networks operate mainly on a pay as you go basis and SIM cards and airtime for MTN can be bought throughout Rwanda. Both networks have good coverage of the country.

There are two main Internet Providers: Rwandatel/Terracom and MTN. The Rwandatel EVDO card is widely used but has been oversubscribed and therefore operates at a very low speed. Coverage is good throughout the country. The cost of purchasing equipment and operating costs are high in terms of quality of service. MTN operates a similar but cheaper system, although this is also slow. Both operators offer an extremely expensive, but higher speed fixed WIMAX variant wireless 'broadband' service in Kigali. This achieves very low speeds compared to western standards, but is capable of VOIP. Rwandatel offers ADSL in some areas of the country; but this is far from widespread.

Internet cafes exist, but generally provide cheap but slow connections.

The postal system is mostly reliable. Those wishing to receive post must register and pay for annually, a Post Office Box at the Post Office.

There is one national television station: Rwanda Television which broadcasts feeds from various international broadcasters during the day. The evening programming largely consists of locally produced news programming repeated in Kinyarwanda, English and French.

Subscription based satellite television is easily available; particularly in Kigali. There are currently two operators: South African based DSTV and UK owned GTV. At the moment, DSTV offers the widest range of programming but is more expensive. DTSV equipment and smart cards can be arranged through the DSTV agent in Rwanda: Tele-10. Initial enquiries must be made through Tele-10, although viewers can reduce costs by subscribing directly via DSTV in South Africa after the initial three month subscription period. Information concerning GTV can be obtained in Rwanda from the company's main office in Kigali.

Economy

Rwanda is a rural country with about 90% of the population engaged in (subsistence) agriculture. It is landlocked with few natural resources and minimal industry.cite web|url=http://www.wfp.org/country_brief/indexcountry.asp?country=646|title=World Hunger - Rwanda|accessdate=2006-12-04|publisher=World Food Programme] Its primary exports are coffee, tea, flowers and minerals (mainly Coltan, which is used in the manufacture of electronic and communication devices (such as mobile phones) . Tourism is a growing sector, notably ecotourism (Nyungwe Forest, Lake Kivu) and the world famous and unique mountain gorillas in the Virunga park. It has a low gross national product (GNP), and it has been identified as a Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC). In 2005, its economic performance and governance achievements prompted International Funding Institutions to cancel nearly all its debts.

According to the World Food Programme, it is estimated that 60% of the population live below the poverty line and 10-12% of the population suffer from food insecurity every year.

Land management is the single most important factor in the conflicts in west Africa. Although the feudal system of land use disappeared with the "Social Revolution" of 1959, sharecropping reappeared following the return of the RPF government in 1994, with the land use policies of the new RPF government being formalized in the 2005 land use laws. [cite web|url=http://www.africa.kyoto-u.ac.jp/kiroku/asm_suppl/abstracts/pdf/ASM_s35/5TAKEUCHI.pdf|title=Regional Differences Regarding Land Tenancy in Rural Rwanda, with Special Reference to Sharecropping in a Coffee Production Area|accessdate=2007-06-05|date=2007-03-01|publisher=African Study Monographs Suppl. 35: 111-138, Japan External Trade Organization, Tokyo, Japan] These land-use laws were meant to transform a jumble of small, fragmented, and minimally productive plots into more prosperous larger holdings producing for global (as well as for local) markets. The government is to determine how land holdings will be regrouped, which crops will be grown, and which animals will be raised. If farmers fail to follow the national plan, their land may be requisitioned with no compensation, and their land can be given to others.

Although a movement for individual ownership of land arose at the time of independence, land scarcity over much of Rwanda made this impractical over the long term. The current land reform system is somewhat similar to the "igikingi" system of land control that the Tutsi monarchy, and then the Belgian colonial government, used prior to the time leading up to independence. Northwest Rwanda had traditionally used a system of locally controlled land collectivization schemes, which were not under the Mwami's central control, called "ubokonde bw' isuka" in pre-colonial times. It is therefore the northwest of Rwanda that objects most strongly to the central control of land policy reminiscent of igikingi, taking control away from local owners. Some farmers who resisted the policy when it was begun in the 1990s were punished by fines or jail sentences; the policy remains the source of many disputes. [cite web|url=http://www.law.emory.edu/WAL/WAl-studies/rwanda.htm|title=Women's Land Rights in Rwanda|accessdate=2001-04-25|date=2001-04-25|publisher=Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD) NGO, Kigali, Rwanda]

The law also affirms the policy of obligatory grouped residence under which persons living in dispersed homesteads must move to government-established "villages" called imidugudu. Instead of each family living on his own land, communal villages would be re-established, freeing up, presumably, more arable land. When implemented on a large-scale in the late 1990s, authorities in some cases used force, fines, and prison terms to make Rwandans relocate.

At least two imidugudu were created in northwestern Rwanda in 2005, leading to land loss for local farmers. Although the law claimed to accept the validity of customary rights to land, it rejected the customary use of marshlands by the poor and abolished important rights of prosperous landlords (abakonde) in the northwest. [cite web|url=http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/01/18/rwanda12286.htm|title=Human Rights Overviews: Rwanda|accessdate=2006-01-18|date=2006-01-18|publisher=Human Rights Watch, New York, US]

However, the policy also ensured the ability of the government to exercise eminent domain for environmental reasons, which it did in 2007 by evicting encroaching settlers from the shores of Lake Kivu in an effort to protect the fragile environment there. [cite web|url=http://allafrica.com/stories/200706041265.html|title=Rwanda: Eviction of Lake Kivu Encroachers Begins|accessdate=2007-06-04|date=2007-06-03|publisher=New Times, Kigali, Rwanda]

The government has also looked at ways to extract methane from Lake Kivu to help with the country's energy needs. The Capital Market Advisory Council [CMAC] of Rwanda was established in 2008. The monetary and financial markets are dominated by 9 banks and 6 insurance companies in which the state continues to be a major shareholder. [cite web|url=http://www.nepad.org/2005/files/aprm/FINAL_RWANDA_REPORT_SEPT_22_2006.pdf|title=Country Review Report of the Country of Rwanda|date=2005-11|accessdate=2006-09-22|publisher=African Peer Review Mechanism, Midrand, South Africa] Over 200 micro-credit institutions (also known as micro-finance institutions), often financed by international donors, sprung up in Rwanda (especially since 2004), but many were unregistered, unregulated, and often mismanaged. Several were shut down by the Rwandan government in 2006. [cite web|url=http://microcapital.org/cblog/index.php?/archives/267-The-Microcredit-Investment-Legacy-of-Plundering-Poor-Peoples-Savings-National-Bank-of-Rwanda-Shuts-Down-8-Local-Microfinance-Institutions-MFIs.html#extended
title=The Microcredit Investment Legacy of Plundering Poor People’s Savings: National Bank of Rwanda Shuts Down 8 Local Microfinance Institutions (MFIs)|date=2006-06-24|publisher=MicroCapital (Prisma MicroFinance), Boston, USA
] In September 2006, the World Bank approved a US$10 million grant to Rwanda to develop information and communication technology. [cite web|url=http://i-policy.typepad.com/informationpolicy/2006/09/rwanda_world_ba.html|title=Rwanda: World Bank gives US$10m for ICTs|date=2006-09-14|publisher=The New Times, Kigali, Rwanda]

Bourbon Coffee shop, a western style cafe, has opened a number of branches throughout Kigali and is very popular, especially with the ex-pat community.

Investment

Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency (RIEPA) has been set up to facilitate local and foreign investors.

Kenyan Supermarket chain 'Nakumatt' has recently opened in Kigali city centre (2008).

Demographics

Most Rwandans speak Kinyarwanda. Before the arrival of European colonists, there was no written history. Today, the nation is roughly 84% Hutu, 15% Tutsi, and 1% Twa, with smaller minorities of South Asians, Arabs, French, British, and Belgians. The nation is some 56.5% Roman Catholic, 26% Protestant, 11.1% Adventist, and 4.6% Muslim, original beliefs 0.1%, none 1.7% (2001). [ [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/print/rw.html Rwandan Religion Statistics at CIA-The Wolrd Factbook] ]

However, the current percentage for the Muslim population is believed to be around at 14%. This is after the rush of conversions to Islam in the decade following the genocide. The tiny Muslim community at the time of the genocide had played a vital role in saving countless Christian Tutsis from the Christian Hutus.

These converts have their own reasons for converting to Islam - some wanted to honor those who had saved them or their family members, some were introduced to Islam during their stay with their protectors, others chose Islam as another alternative because they simply could not go back to the Catholic Church which is seen as having played a critical role in aiding the perpetrators of the genocide, and a fraction converted because they realised that Muslim Tutsis did not die in the genocide since Muslim Hutus had refused to be swept away by Hutu hatred.cite news
author = Emily Wax
title = Islam Attracting Many Survivors of Rwanda Genocide
url = http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A53018-2002Sep22.html
publisher = The Washington Post
location = Washington, D.C.
page = A10
date= 2002-11-23
accessdate = 2007-12-04
] cite news
author = Robert Walke
title = Rwanda's religious reflections
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3561365.stm
publisher = BBC
date= 2004-4-01
accessdate = 2008-08-23
] [ [http://www.islamawareness.net/Fastest/rwanda2.html Times Daily] ] Tiemessen, Alana (2005) " [http://www.cpsa-acsp.ca/papers-2005/tiemessen.pdf From Genocide to Jihad: Islam and Ethnicity in Post-Genocide Rwanda] ." Paper presented at the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association, London, Ontario.]

According to the "World Refugee Survey 2008", published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Rwanda hosted 54,200 refugees and asylum seekers in 2007. Approximately 51,300 refugees and asylum seekers were from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 2,900 from Burundi.cite news|title=World Refugee Survey 2008|publisher=U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants|date=2008-06-19|url=http://www.refugees.org/survey]

See also

* History of Rwanda
* Rwandan Genocide
* Politics of Rwanda
* Geography of Rwanda
* Transport in Rwanda
* Economy of Rwanda
* Demographics of Rwanda
* Religion in Rwanda
* Rwandan parliamentary election, 2008

References

External links

* [http://www.gov.rw/ The Republic of Rwanda] official government site
* [http://lafrique.com/afrique/articles/2/ Miss Rwanda presents Rwanda's Lake Kivu]
* [http://www.irinnews.org/frontpage.asp?SelectRegion=Great_Lakes&SelectCountry=Rwanda IRIN News for Rwanda, from the United Nations]
* [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/rw.html CIA World Factbook — "Rwanda"]
*
* [http://www.rwasta.net News, documentation and history of Rwanda seen by young rwandese]
* [http://www.flickr.com/photos/ahibadi/collections/72157600043202260 Photos of Rwanda]
* [http://www.rwandasafarisguide.com Rwanda Safaris Guide]
* [http://www.rwanda-online.org Rwanda Online Guide]
* National Geographic Journalist Kira Salak's 2006 Article [http://www.kirasalak.com/Darkness.html "PLACES OF DARKNESS"] appearing in National Geographic Adventure
* [http://www.kirasalak.com/PhotosRwandaGorillas.html Photos] from National Geographic Journalist Kira Salak's 2006 Article "PLACES OF DARKNESS" appearing in National Geographic Adventure


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